Dame Deborah was born about 1627. She was the daughter of Robert Hatton, a sergeant–at-law and his wife Alice Dreynes Hatton of Thames Ditton in Surrey. She had two children Isaac and Alice with her first husband Isaac Jones (about 1620-1647). They lived in Kingston, Surrey.
The painting depicts Dame Deborah as a widow. In 1654 she was married for a second time to Sir Edward Hopton of Canon Frome, Herefordshire. He was an Mfor Hereford and a Royalist and had been a ‘Yeoman of the stirrup’ to Charles 1. The family had split allegiances with one side fighting for the Cavaliers, the other for the Roundheads. Canon Frome Court, their home was garrisoned during the Civil War on behalf of the king. On 22 July 1645 following a siege of two years it was taken by the Scots.
Edward and Dame Deborah had two daughters, Alice and Deborah, and four sons. Sir Edward died in 1668 and Dame Deborah at the age of 77 in 1702. The painting remained in the family’s possession until 1942 when it was sold as part of the sale of the estate and its contents.
Dame Deborah’s portrait is apparently a true reflection of her maternal skill and dedication. Her husband, Sir Edward Hopton, died in 1668 and in his will he pays tribute to his wife’s efforts as a mother ‘I being very well sattisfyed of the great discretion eminent care and abundant motherly love and affection which …hath and will continue to and for my said children’.
James Gandy (1619-1689) was one of the earliest English painters. It is thought that Gandy was probably from Exeter and that he was most likely a student of Anthony van Dyck. The Duke of Ormonde, his patron took him to Ireland where he remained until his death. He is the father of the artist William Gandy, the portrait painter.